Rearranging The Deckchairs

Frank O'Dwyer's blog

The Dumb Age

As Michael Tobis has noted, Google is less and less a reliable source of information these days. For example compare this (the truth) to this (everything beyond the first few entries is garbage). It is as if the entire Internet is turning into Conservapedia. It doesn’t seem as if PageRank is that helpful in filtering out the rubbish, either…the only reason the first few entries come up at all is they have huge page rank (e.g. wikipedia). Where are all the other authoritative websites on this topic? They do exist. It doesn’t even seem like PageRank is a good mechanism for this - for example, in my first draft of this post, I linked to Conservapedia. Google would interpret that as a vote, so I removed that link. (Instead I’ll add another link to the more accurate resource on global warming consensus, in the hope of doing my bit to improve the search results one day.) On a happier note, I’ve been playing around with stackoverflow.com, which is a site for programming related questions that relies on a sort of ’wisdom of crowds’ effect (voting and reputation) to get good questions and good answers. It seems to work pretty well so far - though it seems a little over engineered to me (I would prefer to see more emergent rules than the arbitrary settings the developers have added). Still, I asked this question and within a few hours I had two pretty helpful answers from some people who know what they are talking about. It’s not quite the old USENET days, when you could ask a question about some API and often enough get a note from the person who wrote the API, but it’s close.